A few years ago I signed up for an online Mindfulness course along with a 2 other courses. Well 2 years later and I have eventually got around to starting the mindfulness course (luckily it doesn’t have a time limit LOL). I thought today would be a good opportunity to share with you what I have learnt so far…
Mindfulness is about taking a step back and being aware of how you’re feeling. It is a method of paying close attention to your thoughts, moods, sensations and emotions in the moment without any judgment.
I love the time I devote each day to myself to pursue peace and calm. Every morning I have a daily routine followed by about an hour of yoga and meditation before starting work. This time is crucial for me to let go of my daily tasks and the running commentary in my head. It is a time for me to check in with myself and see how I am and enables me to set a platform for mindfulness.
Gaining skills in mindfulness might help you become more aware of the world around you, how you feel, the urges you experience, and how to take decisions about these urges. It can also provide a new perspective on negative emotions, feelings and bodily sensations. This, in turn, can give new ways of managing them.
When life get really busy, a sense of peace and just being can become a little lost or sidelined. However having a small array of mindfulness moments can help us maintain a feeling of ease, peace and calm in our daily lives. Below I have put together a few mindfulness moments that I have learnt along the way that you might like to integrate into your life:
Breathe- simply observe each breath as it comes in and out. Don’t try to change or force it, just observe.
Relax muscles- notice the tension that can be held in many areas (especially in the jaw and shoulders) and let it dissolve.
Flow- focus on the present, just doing one thing at a time and enjoy the peace and ease this offers.
Just being- spend a few moments doing nothing, just letting it all go.
All of these activities will calm the mind and body. In these moments we are able to let go, become still, feel peaceful and be mindful.
I believe having a small array of mindfulness moments can help us maintain a feeling of ease, peace and calm in our daily lives. Taking the time to become aware of, appreciate and understand the world around you, how you feel, the urges you experience, and how to take decisions about these urges is a magnificent gift that you can give yourself.
You may already have practised some of these or have your own. If you do have your own, I’d love to hear about them, simply share your mindfulness moments in the comments section of this post.
If you are always rushing on to the next moment, what happens to the one that you are in? – Anonymous
Yoga Teacher Training (YTT) is about opening your heart and sharing something that is special to you with others so that they too can feel as good as you do when you practice yoga. While my YTT was Hatha yoga, during our training one of my amazing teachers, Amanda taught us about the Anusara Yoga’s Universal Principles of Alignment:
I’m not going to pretend that I am now an expert on this topic but I thought that the first principle would be a great place to start as it kind of sums up my yoga journey to become a teacher of yoga- learning how to safely and correctly teach yoga and opening my heart and sharing something that is special to me with others.
Set the foundations
This is part of the first principle because it is most important. Everything else builds from it. Beginning your Hatha yoga practice by building a strong, flexible, and solid foundation is essential. Like any structure- think buildings, bridges, yoga is built from the foundation up and the foundation is rooted firmly to the ground. If you look at an asana the foundation of the pose which is touching the floor affects everything else. Yoga poses either start their foundations in the feet or hands (or, in other words, from the ground up).
If your foot is placed even slightly out of alignment, it translates up to your knee, pelvis, back, and so on. If your hand is turned out or the finger tips are lifted, your wrist, elbow, shoulder and neck may experience unnecessary strain. Therefore, it is essential to begin by building your feet as your solid roots to build upward. If your feet/ hands are fully connected to the earth, they will move energy up correctly through your ankles/wrists, knees/elbows, hips/shoulders and spine, preventing unnecessary injuries and allowing you to practice and master more advanced asanas successfully.
In yoga, you build a firm and level foundation by focusing on your foundations (whether they be your hands or feet), and from it a strong, spacious, and elegant pose will rise. To create a firm foundation, use the strength of your legs or arms to send strong roots into the earth; make the foundation level by contacting the floor evenly with your feet or hands. Building awareness in the feet/hands in each and every pose may sound tedious, and yes, it can take years of practice, but it’s well worth the effort. When building a house, having a solid foundation will determine the viability of the rest of the structure as it goes up, so too will having a solid foundation in your yoga practice ensure that the rest of your body is well supported and protected.
According to my 3rd surgeon, balance and shape of your feet are determined by the shapes of the bones in your feet, the structure of the ligaments that hold the bones together, and the muscles that move and position the bones. Though research I found out that the bones and the structure of the ligaments are hereditary, but you do have the power to change the strength, flexibility, and coordination of your foot muscles. Since doing yoga regularly, I have made significant changes to the shape and balance of my feet- my right toes have spread and my foot is slightly wider. This has allowed me to gain better balance and compensate for the irreparable damage that my foot and ankle have endured.
So what’s the life lesson?
Life is a journey and it’s up to you to set the foundation; to know when to pursue and when to let go. It’s up to you to look after your mind and body through meditation, exercise and healthy eating before you get sick, not just treat it when it is sick. It’s up to you to make choices that will serve you instead of hinder. It’s up to you to monitor and control your thoughts, feelings and actions. It is up to you to love yourself first and foremost so that others can also love you. Change is inevitable but when you set the foundations right, you are anchored and can brave the ‘stormy of high seas’ of life.
Whether you are setting the foundation in a yoga class or in your daily life, it is imperative to get the fundamentals right. Please come back tomorrow for the second part of this 2 part blog. I hope you have enjoyed reading my blogs so far.
Dedicated to Marina, Amanda, Tatijana, Jessica, Julia, Katelyn and Laura. Thank you for sharing some of my most profound and life changing yoga moments with me, Xx
For those of us who practice yoga, isn’t it often difficult to explain how transformative a yoga practice can be?
As mentioned a previous post “Transform your Mind, Body and Spirit” yoga provides many physical, mental and spiritual benefits, such as improved balance, strength and flexibility, it can increase your happiness, focus and self-esteem, and can provide inner strength, benefit your relationships and connect you with guidance. However, there are also many wonderful life lessons to learn through yoga.
Today I wanted to talk about 8 of the 10 most important life lessons that yoga has taught me.
To love and honour my body.
Dear Body, “I love you. I accept you. I see you. I promise to cherish you all the days of my life.”- Unknown
Today we are bombarded with images of perfection through social media and advertising, and it is easy to fall into the trap of thinking we should look a certain way. However the more I practice yoga, the more I appreciate my body for the way it moves, rather than the way it looks. I am thankful for its strength and flexibility, and for the way it functions. I am grateful for good health and the ability to be able to walk again. I now honour the physical temple that houses me by nourishing it with healthy foods, using positive thoughts and self-talk, listening to my body’s needs, through sunshine, movement and exercise and finally by treating it with dignity and love.
2. To be patient.
Our patience will achieve more than our force- Edmund Burke
In today’s society, we do not really have to be patient. If we want to buy something, we can order it online and have it delivered the same day. Yoga has taught me that good things come to those who wait. More challenging poses seemed elusive when I first started yoga, but with regular practice and perseverance and without force, I have been able to learn poses that once seemed impossible.
3. To not compare myself to others.
The only person you should try to be better than, is the person you were yesterday- Matty Mullins
I’m not going to lie, this was a hard one but I can honestly say that I do not compare myself to other people when I take yoga classes anymore. Believe me I used to feel very inadequate, especially in more difficult classes. Dealing and managing a long-term injury is always difficult. In the beginning I would find myself looking around, wishing my body was injury free or that I was able to get into that pose or look like that instead of the way I looked in the pose (usually awkward and uncomfortable). For a long time I have been able to focus on my practice and movement without being distracted by watching other people. However in the beginning of my Yoga Teacher Training I did find myself somehow getting distracted by the strength and flexibility of my peers and teachers but instead of wishing that I looked like that in this moment, I was inspired by their dedication and practice and refrained from feeling jealousy. I looked at what they were doing and endeavoured to improve my yoga practice so that I could be a better yogini than I was the day before. Thanks for the inspiration Amanda, Tatijana, Jessica, Julia, Katelyn and Laura.
4. Let go of things that no longer serve you
Respect yourself enough to walk away from ANYTHING that no longer serves you, grows you, or makes you HAPPY! – Robert Tew
It is natural for things to come in and out of our lives and when things that we have wanted in life come our way, we sometimes hold on so tightly for fear that we will lose it. Other times we may cling on to unhelpful thoughts or feelings. It’s normal to want to hold onto behaviors, thoughts or feelings, objects, or even people but when they no longer serve us, that is when this ‘holding on’ can become unhealthy and sometimes harmful. At times, our minds can make us believe we need these belongings, situations, thoughts, feelings or relationships, and out of this fear we desperately hold on to them.
By letting go of these things that no longer serve us, a powerful lesson is reinforced- the lesson to trust when it’s time to let some things go. This has been one of the hardest lessons for me, especially to let go of thoughts and feelings, and one that I am still struggling with now.
5. Slow down.
Slow down, happiness is trying to catch you- Clarissa Garay
I lived (and still do to some extent) my life in the fast lane. For those who know anything about doshas- I am a pretty typical Pitta. I speak quickly, walk quickly, think quickly and make decisions (most of the time) quite quickly. I am adventurous and am always planning my next adventure. I am also observant and I process information I gather accurately.
So when I noticed in my yoga classes that people who move slowly are incredibly strong and have good alignment, I too wanted to implement this into my practice. I started focusing on slowing down and not rushing to get to the end of the pose (or to finish a challenging pose).
I have learnt that growth occurs when we take our time and push through a challenge instead of rushing through it without reaping any of the rewards. I also started taking the entire breath for each movement and have noticed a change in my practice. This has also helped me outside of yoga. I am able to stop and smell the roses, instead of running from place to place (although I must admit my work life is still chaotic- and probably always will, I have made a conscious effort to bring balance to my work and private life). I now allow myself time to relax without feeling that I must always be doing something and for this I am a happier person.
Before I started yoga, I had little awareness of my breath. Breathing exercises are a huge part of any yoga practice, and they can be a very useful tool in our daily lives, too. As I learned to breathe in yoga, I started to become more aware of my breath outside of my practice and began to utilise these techniques in my daily life. I am now able to notice how my breath changes when I am nervous, and how I can focus on deepening and slowing down my breath to help myself relax. Focusing on my breath is one of the easiest things I can control, and I can do it anywhere at any time.
7. Be present.
Realise deeply that the present moment is all you ever have- Eckhart Tolle.
For the longest time, I could not articulate to other people why I loved yoga- but then I had a teacher talk about being present, and it clicked for me. When I am on my mat, I am only thinking about what I am doing and nothing else. Each pose requires focus and concentration that forces me to be present. This is not easy for me outside of yoga. As an extremely organised planner, I usually get consumed about something in the future- usually my next travel adventure. Being present is still a challenge for me, but I am much more aware of my ability to get caught up in future events and am able to bring myself back to the present moment. This has helped me better manage my stress and realise I can plan for the future but cannot control it.
8. I am strong and I can achieve more than I think
I am stronger than I think I am- Thomas Merton.
My accident and subsequent injuries spanning from 2010-2011 forced me to step outside my comfort zone and to have the courage to take massive action. Being forced to have to learn how to walk again made me a true believer that I can achieve more than I ever thought I ever could. I am strong. I am capable. I am determined. And so are you!
Stay tuned for my next 2 posts entitled “Set the Foundations & Open your heart (Yoga Teacher Training)” where the other 2 life lessons that need a blog unto themselves will be explored.
Finally, I would like to acknowledge that the life lessons that I mentioned above do not happen after one class, but if you stick with it, you might just find yoga will change your life in many beautiful ways!
While as a child (See: To meditate or not to meditate…Part 1) and whilst in hospital I found meditating easy (See: Road to Dhyana), I never really knew that I was doing it- I just did it. So surprisingly, when I was formally introduced to the practice of meditation through my yoga classes I must admit, I found it quite difficult to sit and clear away all my ‘head chatter’ so that I could focus all my energy on being open and present. I used to be able to find a million excuses for not taking even 5 minutes a day to sit and be quiet.
The ray of light through the clouds
That was until I went to a yoga retreat with Antonia Pont who read the following piece while we were meditating which she called sitting. It resonated with me so profoundly that it changed the way I thought and felt about meditating and practicing meditation. I hope you enjoy my condensed version of it and get as much as I did out of this insightful piece of writing:
As quoted in the book The heart of Practice- Understanding yoga from inside written by Orit Sen-Gupta, Uchiyama said that “people are living beings that have a head, and that in this head, thoughts and emotions are running about, arising and disappearing. That’s why it’s totally normal to think while sitting [meditating]. Just like there are secretions of hormones flowing in our organs, one can view thoughts as secretions of the consciousness. It’s just that at times, if we’re not careful, and sometimes even if we are, these secretions influence us and activate us too much.” (p.26).
The book continues to say “The most important thing in the practice of sitting is simply to let go, or relax. When we do this, we can see anything that comes up in our mind as the general landscape of our life.” (p.26).
Uchiyama is then quoted as saying “the deep skies never disturb the white clouds that are flowing in them.” (p.26).
There is no need for the sky to get rid of the clouds and there is no need for you to get rid of or get frustrated by your reoccurring thoughts during meditation. Instead, simply think of your thoughts as fluffy white clouds that gently float in and out of your mind, don’t hold onto them, just notice them and let them glide on by.
What does meditation mean to me now?
… the transformation of the mind
… feeling fresh and alive
… a state of serenity, peace and clarity
… pleasure minus excitement
… a thrill without anxiety
… love without hatred
… absolute joy and happiness
Mediation is a lifelong gift, something you can call on at any time.
So when asked: Should I try meditating? I say: Why not!
Dhyana, meditation or contemplation is the 7th limb of the 8 limbs of yoga. This post is called ‘Road to Dhyana’ because meditation is hard to achieve; it is a long and arduous journey. Sometimes, I can fully meditate and other times I am just practicing Dharana (concentrating) which is the step that comes before Dhyana.
I started meditating before I even knew I was meditating. As a young child I would sit in the sun in my mum’s beautiful garden with my back against the garage wall and… just sit and observe my thoughts without getting caught up in it. Sometimes I would get distracted by surrounding noises or a particularly interesting cloud, but for the most part I would just sit and observe. Then somewhere along the way- around my teenage years, I lost my ability to just sit and meditate. I had to always be doing something; with school, work and a busy social life there was little time to just sit.
But like everything else in my life, I found meditation again in my time of need. Whilst laying in a hospital bed in Honduras my ability to temporarily ‘slip away’ provided me with some relief from the terrifying situation that I was in and the pain that I should have been experiencing.
You see, after my accident I was taken first to a public hospital and then to a private hospital and finally to another private hospital. While the public hospital was beyond comprehension, it did not cause me too much trauma as I was there for only a few hours. However the second hospital was one hell of a traumatic experience, one in which I needed to escape from.
I lay in the hospital bed for 4 days in a foreign country with the only person who could speak English constantly telling me that I needed to give them money before I lost my leg. They refused me antibiotics for any infections and no pain killers were administered. My ankle and lower leg were a big as my thigh as my bones in my leg had bowed. I was scared, lonely and at first, in a lot of pain.
Luckily, I had meditation. Meditation provided me with temporary relief through diverting my attention and distracted me from the source of my pain by allowing me to focus on something else. My real pain and suffering thoughts and emotions were held in abeyance. I had learnt how to not give them any attention- to tune them out. My attention was elsewhere, and the relief was palpable.
Of course this isn’t a forever‐state; it’s temporary. Relief is lovely but, by its very nature, it’s short‐lived. I am in no way endorsing anyone to use meditation to escape their pain or suffering. For me I was able to use meditation to provide me with temporary relief from a certain situation that I knew would not last forever.
For those people out there reading this and thinking “Great! I can meditate my problems away” think again! These problems, issues, emotions, or pain keep on arising because they need your attention. They show up to be healed, blessed, and transformed but when you’re using spiritual practice to seek relief you’re doing the exact opposite. Meditation‐as‐relief is an escape strategy and not a healthy way to deal with you problems. When you seek to escape thoughts and emotions you’re not dealing with them and instead you’re denying them what they need to transform.
Instead I suggest that you use meditation to help understand it, come to terms with it and perhaps find ways in which you can begin heal it. Dr Ian Gawler of the Ian Gawler Foundationstates that “No matter where in your life you want to see improvement, meditation can help. It does not matter what age you are, your culture or beliefs; meditation is for everyone and can provide you with great benefits, many of which have been scientifically confirmed. This simple, yet powerful mind training tool, can bring long-term improvement to your health, well-being, relationships and career.” Mindbody Mastery. I can certainly testify that meditation has brought long-term improvement to my health and well-being and I am starting to use it for personal growth and to improve my relationships and career.
Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu
(May all beings everywhere be happy and free, and may the thoughts, words, and actions of my own life contribute in some way to that happiness and to that freedom for all).
“Meditation brings wisdom; lack of mediation leaves ignorance. Know well what leads you forward and what holds you back, and choose the path that leads to wisdom.” – Buddha
What is meditation?
By dictionary definition, “meditation” means to reflect upon, ponder, or contemplate. Meditation is immemorial: it was first recorded in written texts around seven thousand years ago in China. According to Dr. Ian Gawler the earliest written records of meditation being practised come from China around 5000 BC. They next appeared in Indian written records (Hindu Vedantism) around 1500 BC, and in the Greece around 750 BC.
In the yogic context, meditation, (Dhyana), is defined more specifically as a state of pure consciousness. It is the seventh stage, or limb, of the yogic path and follows Dharana, the art of concentration.
To me, meditation is cultivating awareness and learning to observe your thoughts (and mental activity) without getting caught up in it.
Meditation- A rich and extensive history
Have you ever asked yourself the question, “Where did meditation originate?” If you have, then you are asking the same question that has puzzled researchers, scientists, archaeologists and millions of others for centuries.
The briefest research will reward you with the insight that meditation is an ancient art. While written evidence of meditation has been around for thousands of years in countless forms, it is very likely that formalised practice existed even before then. Meditation has been practiced continuously in virtually all cultures and is integral to the core of all major religions and most spiritual paths in some form or another. In fact, many researchers believe that the practice of meditation comes from an instinctive and primal need to connect to the universe and to oneself. Some even suggest that if recorded history went back much further there would definitely be proof that meditation existed as long as human existence.
Meditation practices of various cultures
While this practice is often associated primarily with Eastern cultures and religions, it is apparent that meditation is a widespread and long-lasting phenomenon that is not solely limited to religions or Eastern cultures. The following are examples compiled by Terry Hurleyof cultural variations of meditation:
Native Americans sweat lodge ceremonies where they offer contemplation, prayers and offerings to the Great Spirit.
Christian monks practice contemplation and prayer in monasteries
“Lecto Divina” is the practice of early Christian monks method of reading the Bible. It was read very slowly as the meaning of each verse was carefully contemplated and considered.
The sound rituals of the Aborigines where they used dancing, singing and playing didgeridoos to keep the world in existence.
The Islamic practice of morning prayers and meditations.
Is Dharana (concentration) and Dhyana(meditation) important?
The short answer is yes, absolutely!
Meditation is important for every human being. Humans are guided by their wants and needs- Hunger drives us toward food, thirst pulls us toward water, in the same way, the soul yearns for meditation and this tendency is in everyone. Meditation is sustenance for the soul.
Why practise concentration and meditation?
For thousands of years people have used meditation to move beyond the mind’s stress-inducing thoughts and emotional upsets into the peace and clarity of present moment awareness.
Meditation practices are techniques that encourage and develop concentration, clarity, emotional positivity, and create a sense of calm. By engaging in the practice of meditation you learn the patterns and habits of your mind, and the practice offers a means to cultivate new, more positive ways of being. With regular work and patience these nourishing, focused states of mind can deepen into profoundly peaceful and energised states of mind. Such experiences can have a transformative effect and can lead to a new understanding of life.
How do I start concentrating/ meditating?
You don’t have to follow Patanjali’s eight-limbed path or move away to an ashram to have yoga & meditation benefit your life. You just have to begin to practice it. Simple. Easy. Powerful.
What do I do first? Breathe.
What next? Observe.
And then? Reap the benefits.
Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu
(May all beings everywhere be happy and free, and may the thoughts, words, and actions of my own life contribute in some way to that happiness and to that freedom for all).
(Yoga is the silencing of the fluctuations of the mind)
Though many people think of yoga as a fitness regime, it actually is a comprehensive way of life/ life philosophy that originated more than 5,000 years ago in India. The word “yoga” means ‘union’ or ‘connection’, which refers to union of the body, mind and spirit. Conscious connection to something allows us to feel and experience that thing, person, or experience. The experience of connection is a state of yoga, a joyful, blissful, fulfilling experience. Patanjali begins the yoga sutras by defining yoga as “citta vrtti nirodaha” (YS 1.2) which is often translated simply as ‘Yoga is the ability to silence/calm/direct/restrain the fluctuations of the consciousness/mind’. Patanjali goes on to say that when in this state of yoga, the practitioner then abides in his or her own/true nature.
In my last post I mentioned the sense of mind, body and spirit connection that Savasana provides but the truth of the matter is that the practice of yoga fuses the body, mind and spirit through meditation, breathing and physical postures. The postures, also called asanas, belong to a branch of yoga called Hatha yoga and were developed to strengthen the body, improve health and prepare for meditation. In a modern yoga practice the postures may serve any or all of these purposes but in my opinion for best results, attending a yoga class that focuses on meditation, breathing and physical postures yields the best results.
According to Yoga Journal and my yoga teacher trainers, there are numerous benefits for taking up yoga. If you have been reading my Blog or practicing yoga regularly, I probably don’t need to convince you that yoga improves the body, mind and spirit but I have put together a list just in case 😉
Builds muscle strength and tone
Improves respiration, energy and vitality
Prevents cartilage and joint breakdown
Protects your spine
Improves bone health
Increases blood flow
Drains lymphs and boosts immunity
Ups your heart rate
Reduces blood pressure
Regulates the adrenal glands
Lowers blood sugar
Maintains the nervous system
Maintains a balanced metabolism
Releases tension in the limbs
Boosts immune system functionality
Gives your lungs room to breathe
Prevents IBS and other digestive problems
Helps keep you drug free
Employs sounds to soothe your sinuses
Keeps allergies and viruses at bay
Supports connective tissue
Assists with weight reduction
Improves cardio and circulatory health
Improves athletic performance
Boosts sexual performance
Protects from injury
Lessens chronic pain, such as lower back pain, arthritis, headaches and carpal tunnel syndrome
Increases body awareness
Makes you happier
Initiates a healthy lifestyle
Helps you focus
Relaxes your system
Helps you sleep deeper
Creates peace of mind
Builds awareness for transformation
Guides your body’s healing in your mind’s eye
Encourages self care
Helps manage stress
Helps develop coping skills
Builds a more positive outlook on life
Creates mental clarity and calmness
Improves mental well-being
Relieves chronic stress patterns
Relaxes the mind
Fights food cravings
Provides inner strength
Connects you with guidance
Benefits your relationships
Helps you serve others
Although many people come to yoga for the physical practice, I believe that people keep coming back for all the other wonderful benefits that yoga provides. If you have never given yoga a chance, I encourage you to try it today!
I hope you enjoyed reading my Blog post. Keep on reading my next post to find out more about my take on meditation.
When a crisis hits, you have to dig deep. I tried everything and did absolutely everything to learn to walk again but the one thing that had drastic long term effects on my entire being was yoga. Yoga helped me tap into reserves of inner strength to find new hope, resilience, and happiness. My teachers guided me to recovery, provided me with motivation when times were tough, helped me ‘shut down’ my overactive mind and just relax, taught me how to deal with and manage stress levels, provided me with inner strength and resilience but most of all they INSPIRED me to be the best me that I can be. Like all of my yoga teachers, past and present, I would also like to INSPIRE others.
As I have alluded to in other posts, yoga is more than just poses. In fact, the asanas (poses/postures) comprise just a small part of the overall Eight Limbs of Yoga, as spelled out in the Yoga Sutras and it was through the introduction and exploration of the asanas, pranayama (breath work) and meditation that created the greatest transformations in my life.
The two greatest realisations that I made through the exploration of the asanas, pranayama (breath work) and meditation that have changed my life can be summed up in the following two inspirational quotes:
“When you find peace within yourself, you become the kind of person who can live at peace with others.” ~ Peace Pilgrim
It’s only human to get upset, to get mad, to be sad, stressed out, etc. but there has to be balance. If you stay for too long in these states, they will eventually take over.
If you allow these emotions to take over you, to take over your life, they will eventually control you and you will then be at their mercy. At the mercy of your feelings and emotions, at the mercy of your moods, and the one in charge of your life will no longer be you, but them. Instead the thing in charge of your life and your well being will be your moods, your emotions and your feelings.
Yoga has helped me learn how to work with these emotions to make my life easier, happier, and better. My teachers have taught me how to take time to observe myself, my thoughts and feelings, and to try to understand what it is that really bothers me so much, and choose to do something about it. They have helped me release and relieve stress and have introduced me to strategies that can be used outside the yoga studio. Through this practice I have found greater inner peace and in return feel greater peace with others.
Yoga reminds us that you are the one in control; it’s always up to you. Your happiness and your unhappiness are just choices you make.
Negativity can only feed with negativity; anger can only feed with more anger. When you choose to step back from the dark, things will change for you, and you will find inner peace. Your relationships will improve, you will be happier, and you will find peace. Yoga can guide you to get back to being true to yourself; back to being you.
As a Yoga teacher, I would like to INSPIRE others to guide people back to being in control of themselves instead of letting their moods, emotions and feelings rule their lives.
“I have been a seeker and I still am, but I stopped asking the books and the stars. I started listening to the teaching of my Soul.” ~ by Rumi
Through yoga and my yoga journey I have started to listen to myself and ask myself ‘What do you really need?’ and when faced with a tough decision ‘What would a person who truly loved themself do?’
Yoga has taught me is that I need to develop the habit of checking in with myself; taking ownership of my thoughts and feelings, trusting my body and my senses, allowing all of my complexity, all of my sensitivity, and all of my uncertainty, owning and aligning with my natural strengths and seeing a set back as a challenge that I can overcome through hard work and patience. In other words, getting more clearly connected to myself!
Yoga has inspired me to eat better, be more active, continue to enjoy my life and travel, be more adventurous, face my fears (except spiders LOL), speak my truth, listen to my intuition, seek out challenges, accept failure as part of the learning process, take care of myself, get out in nature as much as possible, and, most importantly, love myself just the way I am because I am perfect… and in case you weren’t already aware, so are you!
I have a strong desire to contribute to the uplifting of people, circumstances, and even the planet- to INSPIRE people and bring meaning and possibility to where it is needed.
May you be WELL
May you be HAPPY
May you be PEACEFUL
May you be LOVED
May you be INSPIRED!
I hope you enjoyed reading my Blog posts so far. Keep on reading my next post to find out more about the mind, body and spirit connection and benefits of yoga.
I actually began my yoga journey from a very young age when I spent time with my grandma practicing different yoga poses. I have fond memories of her praising my flexibility as I bent and twisted myself into various poses. I cherish these moments dearly in my memories as they helped me build such positive feelings surrounding yoga from such a young age. However, while my yoga journey started long before 2011, I wasn’t really serious about yoga until 2011 when it seemed I had nothing else to lose.
I was initially drawn to the physical aspect to aid my recovery from a serious car accident that left me unable to walk unassisted (see my previous Blog: How did I find yoga?). However over time, with the introduction of pranayama (breathing techniques) and meditation to my yoga regime, I began to experience profound peace, healing, grounding and clarity in my life. It was then that I discovered that there was so much more to yoga than just the physical aspect.
The practice of yoga has become an integral part of my life journey and I have studied and practiced many different styles of yoga. I would like to take this opportunity to acknowledge with gratitude the inspiration and wisdom of my teachers: Marina Frei, Amanda Holmström, Tatijana (Tanya Koriander)- from Marina Yoga in Thailand, and Julie Gargano to name a few.
I teach yoga as a tool for growth, healing, self-empowerment and transformation. I teach a Hatha style of yoga with built in meditation and pranayama work designed to strengthen and challenge the body, while teaching the mind to relax and embrace the path of awakening the heart.
My classes weave movement, alignment, breath work and meditation as a path to discovering each person’s unique beauty, inner light and empowering the individual within, drawing inspiration from my continued lessons with teachers at Prana House and other opportunities to practice yoga under others’ instructions.
I am also an avid traveller, animal lover, food lover, and a holistic therapist (Reiki Level I trained), and am passionate about learning more about and discussing eco-conscious living.
I hope you enjoyed reading my Blog post. Keep on reading my next post to find out more about why I chose the name INSPIRE.
May your thoughts be of peace, your words of love, and your deed of kindness. – Alexandra Domelle
In the waning moments of my Yoga practice, I would find myself restless. I would think about everything and anything; what would I have for dinner, emails I had to write, plot lines for Home and Away, I would even mentally run through all of the things that I should be doing instead of lying there doing nothing. I was itching to get out of there and get to work.
Questions would run through my head on a loop: How much longer will we be here? How long has it been? Are we going overtime today? To add to my woes, my body often felt cold, itchy, or unsettled, adding a physical element to my mental distractions.
Sometimes I would even open my eyes and look around the room. Everyone else looked so peaceful and made it look easy. Maybe these people didn’t have anything else to do with their time I’d ask myself, starting another line of questioning.
I was often tempted to skip out early as I was so focused on the many tasks that I had to do (mostly for others). But other than my yoga practice a couple of times a week, what was I really doing for myself?
What is Savasana?
Savasana is perhaps the most important part of any Yoga practice. It is also considered the most difficult pose (and certainly found it extremely difficult). While Savasana might look like a nap at the end of your yoga practice, it’s actually a fully conscious pose aimed at being awake, yet completely relaxed. In Savasana- also known as corpse pose- you lie down on your back, arms and legs are spread out at about 45 degrees, the eyes are closed and the breath deep, practicing eliminating tension from the body. Your whole body and mind are relaxed so you can fully assimilate the benefits of your asana practice. Ideally, this posture lasts anywhere from 5 to 20 minutes depending on the yoga teacher. However, even a few minutes of Savasana is said to have powerful benefits.
The Benefits of Savasana
According to Yoga JournalSavasana helps relieve mild depression, high blood pressure, headaches, fatigue, and insomnia. It can also calm the nervous system and promote equanimity in your entire body. Fatigued muscles get to relax, tense shoulders and jaws soften. It stimulates blood circulation and the eyes quiet down to reflect a quieter state of mind.
Some personal benefits of Savasana include releases stress, relaxes my whole body, improves concentration, relaxes my muscles (especially in my jaw, neck and shoulders) and calms my overactive mind.
What I have learnt about Savasana
I later found out that it’s normal for the mind to try to resist deep relaxation and all of the thoughts, feelings and distractions that I was experiencing were all common challenges of Savasana. It is the ultimate act of conscious surrender. Savasana takes practice and patience to surrender easily- two lessons that I needed to learn.
I still live my life in the fast lane. I cram everything in, I talk quickly, process quickly, and rarely put off things that can be done today for tomorrow (even if it means working 12-14 hour days). However, I now take the time to not only practice Savasana but I also appreciate how wonderful and valuable this time is in taking care of myself.
With the world moving so quickly, cultivating the art of Savasana is more valuable than ever and I have found the benefits invaluable. Our society tends to place greater value on speed and productivity but learning how to do nothing is a skill that has helped me become more productive when I need to be while taking care of myself both mentally and physically. It has helped me learn how to completely surrender, stop fighting the clock, and make space for peace and harmony to fill my soul. Savasana is the one thing that I do to bring mental relaxation and peace in my life. It is like hitting the restart button and rebooting your mind, body and spirit.
Needless to say Savasana is now my favourite part of a Yoga class. I love taking the time to relax my whole body, calm my mind, and release stress, fatigue and tension.
I hope you enjoyed reading my second Blog post. Keep on reading my next post to find out more about me as a Yoga teacher.
(The light in me respects, honours, loves and bows to the light in you)